A very interesting article by Chuck. Earlier I was thinking along similar lines about how the Military Intelligence System has devolved in the same manner as our air strategy.
When I first signed up, the Army had a number of sites in far flung places with strange sounding names. The advantage was the people working their were somewhat in tune with the psychological mindset of the people who lived in proximity to the “threat”. When they were concerned it raised our awareness of activities by the “other side”. The local population always had better intelligence than we did, but it was an indicator that we picked up on and used to focus our efforts.
Enter technology (re: US Air Force) resulting in the consolidation of intelligence activities to major fixed bases (somewhat like our overall military strategy – hunker down). We no longer have that view of the population, hell, we don’t have any concept of the human terrain in those areas or anywhere else (with the exception of Korea where we have not run away).
This mirror imaging tactic is now well ensconced in the fabric of our intelligence community. DIA prohibits being in place overseas for more than five years – fears of going native. We focus on language training in
sterile classrooms for our linguists, not in the immersion training so often necessary because of the poor state of our language courses. We have abandoned fundamental training and made everything a cookie cutter approach because it is the easiest approach, no subject matter experts need apply, you might taint the waters.
I say this as the Afghans send its brightest to Ft. Huachuca to be trained, by people who probably could not find Afghanistan on the map. They are taught conventional Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB) (nobody knows how to do Low Intensity Conflict (LIC) – too difficult to determine who all the potential threats are), Area Structures Capabilities Organizations People and Events (ASCOPE) and Political, Military, Economic, Social, Infrastructure, Information (PEMSII) are the order of the day (although they don’t translate well) and technology is the answer, in a country where the literacy rate is less than 50%, soldiers can’t speak a common language and the Russian influence on the intelligence community remains in place (no enlisted need apply, we need to hold hostage families).
Phi Beta Iota: Civil Affairs has done ASCOPE for decades. HOWEVER, US intelligence has never been very sophisticated, in part because it lacks a mature strategic analytic model, in part because the spies have NEVER accepted collection management on a day to day basis (case officers recruit targets of opportunity, they do not actually respect the Objective Memorandum), in part because corporate profiteering focuses on the technical collection capabilities, and in part because no one is held accountable for failing to properly inform the President or anyone else. Sadly, this incoherence is characteristic not only of “intelligence,” but of what should be but is not “whole of government” or stabilization & reconstruction or diplomacy and development. Madeline Albright nailed it in her memoirs: gerbils on wheels pretending to think.